ACWA’s Biosolids and Recycled Water Committee promotes safe and sustainable beneficial use of biosolids and recycled water by providing a forum to share the latest research, stay abreast of regulatory challenges and possible solutions, provide educational opportunities and maintain a strong peer-to-peer network for information and problem solving. We also work closely with the Oregon DEQ to ensure that regulations are protective of health and the environment, and facilitate feasible, implementable beneficial resource recovery programs. We generally meet quarterly or as needed.
About Biosolids and Recycled Water:
Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage at domestic wastewater treatment plants. Through biosolids management, residual solids from wastewater treatment processes are further treated to reduce or eliminate pathogens and minimize odors, forming a safe, beneficial organic product. When properly treated and managed, biosolids are a sustainable, low-carbon fertilizer and soil amendment.
Biosolids are regulated by both the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to ensure quality standards are met. Regulations address pollutant concentrations, pathogen content, odor potential and basic operational practices that are protective of the environment and human health.
Beneficial use of biosolids is preferred over other historical disposal practices such as incineration or landfilling, because the practice is more sustainable for communities and the environment, particularly in the face of growing need to prepare communities for resiliency and adaptation to impacts of a changing climate. Recovering this resource and applying it back to local farm lands also supports local farms and displaces the need for chemical fertilizers, many of which contain unregulated materials.
Recycled water refers to the treated effluent generated from a municipal wastewater treatment system that, as a result of treatment, is suitable for a direct beneficial purpose. Recycled water may be permitted by DEQ for use in beneficial purposes that are protective of human health, the environment, and provide a resource benefit.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission and the Oregon DEQ encourage the use of recycled water for domestic, agricultural, industrial, recreational, and other beneficial purposes in a manner which protects public health and the environment of the state. The use of recycled water can improve water quality by reducing discharge of treated effluent to surface waters, reducing the demand on drinking water sources for uses not requiring potable water, and may conserve stream flows by reducing withdrawal of out-of-stream use.
In other words, every gallon of recycled water that’s used for irrigation, industrial processes, wetland enhancement and other beneficial uses potentially can save a gallon of our community’s drinking water, river flow, or groundwater supplies for other competing demands. Water is continually recycled in nature through the water cycle. The water we use every day is as old as the Earth itself. Modern wastewater treatment replicates the natural water recycling proves to restore large quantities of water used by communities—quickly and effectively. Water reuse is a sustainable practice that helps support community resiliency in the face of growing climate and water supply concerns.
Every cup that passes through a single person and eventually rejoins the world’s water supply holds enough molecules to mix 1,500 of them into every other cup of water in the world. No way around it: some of the water you just drank passed through the kidneys of Socrates, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry